Anchorage’s legal department is working on a proposal to update the city’s policies for clearing unauthorized encampments, according to Alaska Public Media.
The city’s current codes generally prohibit camping on public land and lay out the abatement process, which includes giving campers advance notice and temporarily storing their belongings after they are displaced.
But Anchorage authorities have been letting unauthorized camps stand. That is part policy decision to shutter a mass shelter and instead deliver some basic services at camps, and part legal paralysis stemming from a major federal court case.
The approach leaves campers in limbo, and their immediate neighbors frustrated and fearful about bad behavior impacting their quality of life, security and economic interests.
There are hundreds more people experiencing homelessness than there are shelter spaces in Anchorage. Homelessness experts estimate up to 800 people may be sleeping outdoors. Shelter spaces do open up regularly as people move into more stable housing or otherwise leave, but long waitlists mean they are quickly filled.